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      Welcome!   03/05/2016

      Welcome, everyone, to the new 910CMX Community Forums. I'm still working on getting them running, so things may change.  If you're a 910 Comic creator and need your forum recreated, let me know and I'll get on it right away.  I'll do my best to make this new place as fun as the last one!
ProfessorTomoe

What Are Your Brushes With Fame?

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I have a 4th ed (I know) Player's Handbook signed by Dave Arneson when he came to a local comic book store. I forget if I shook his hand or not.

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I was involved in the development of Sierra On-Line's ill-fated Babylon 5 game.

At DragonCon '98 we demoed a very limited pre-alpha version of our game.  I got to:

  • Watch Phil Foglio setting up his booth on Thursday while wandering around the con after setting up our PCs in the hotel basement.  He's a big guy.  I was too timid to say hi or offer to help.
  • Have dinner with Pat Tallman (Lyta Alexander) and her boyfriend Jeffery Willerth (the human who animated the Kosh suits).  She was gracious, while he snubbed everybody except our producer.
  • Was in an elevator with the not-yet-late Jonathan Harris and as Harris was going up to his room.  When asked (by someone else) to say his iconic line from Lost in Space, he replied, "Only if you paid me."
  • Be on a panel for the B5 Game.  I pushed right to the edge of revealing things I shouldn't about the game, and got some worried glances from my producer and eventually had to shut myself down.  When we compared notes later, Nothing I intended to share but wasn't able to would have gone over the line.
  • demo the game for a pretty animae boothbabe in a skintight outfit.  That's not a brush with fame, especially since I didn't know what character she was supposed to be, but it was nice to be holding down the fort in the second basement of the hotel tending our PCs when she + entourage stopped by.

.At Vorcon 1 (and IIRC Vorcon-only due to some scandals) I got to attend an exclusive meet-n-greet with the cast and ended up talking to Richard Biggs (Dr. Franklin) and Jeff Conaway about the game.  It always stuck with me the way Biggs chewed over the idea of possibly working in the game.  It was apparently the first he'd heard of it.  All I could do is refer him to the game's Producer.  The way he said 'work?" was evocative of someone always hungry, always looking for what's next.

I also got to spend some time at the actual soundstage for B5 while they taped cut-scenes for the B5 game.  I hung out in the rafters of a part of the Zocalo set watching them do scenes on the bridge of an Omega destroyer.  A highly placed fan who knew the studio well took me on a tour of the back areas and workshops.  I also flubbed an interview with a fan publication reporter.  We were doing fine chatting casually but I froze up when he started his mic and recorder.  :)

When B5 was in the process of hiring a continuity cop, The rest of the team tried to put my name in front of JMS, but no go.  I was doing that role for the game as it was.  I had an encyclopedic knowledge of B5 backstory technology and continuity at the time. 

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I was reading/lurking on sci-fi newsgroups during the time when J Michael Straczynski was working on getting the show picked up.  Don't recall if there was yet a rec.arts.babylon5 or if it was a more general one.  At one point, in the depths of negotiations, JMS wasn't able to make any comments on how anything was progressing, so he started replying to questions with variations on "eep!"  Someone suggested one eep! for yes, two eep!s (eep eep!) for no, but he really couldn't risk messing up negotiations by saying how things were going.

Then one day, he posted a message which was an entire page filled with nothing but "eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!"

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4 hours ago, CritterKeeper said:

I was reading/lurking on sci-fi newsgroups during the time when J Michael Straczynski was working on getting the show picked up.  Don't recall if there was yet a rec.arts.babylon5 or if it was a more general one.  At one point, in the depths of negotiations, JMS wasn't able to make any comments on how anything was progressing, so he started replying to questions with variations on "eep!"  Someone suggested one eep! for yes, two eep!s (eep eep!) for no, but he really couldn't risk messing up negotiations by saying how things were going.

Then one day, he posted a message which was an entire page filled with nothing but "eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!  eep!"

I like to think Sierra's choice to produce the B5 game had some small influence on Turner eventually picking up B5's 5th season.  If so, then I also like to think I had a small influence on Sierra's choice to make the game. 

I was a very enthusiastic fan and had VCR recordings of all B5 episodes that had aired.  Several times over the decision-making process Sierra's management needed to look at an episode, so they would ask me for it.  I'd run home (literally..I lived that close to work), find the tape with the episode and cue it up.  So I like to think I had a (small)squared hand in helping B5 get its 5th season.  :)  Probably between 1/100% and 1/10% at most.

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I have the box set of Blood Gulch Chronicles signed by every major original cast member of Red vs Blue except for Jason Saldana and Burnie Burns. In addition, Jeremy Dooley from Achievement Hunter recognized me at PAX East this year while I was in the Rooster Teeth area (which was pretty rad, I thought), and my brother and I walked into the BCEC on Sunday at the same time as Jack Pattillo so we were BSing with him on our way down the escalator (we were staying at the same hotel as most of the RT/AH/Funhaus people (which is going to be important in a minute), and we saw Jack catching an Uber as we were in our own Uber to the con).

In addition, my brother and his friend making friends with a bartender at our hotel led to them meeting Matt Peake from Funhaus and, amongst other things, bringing him up to our hotel room for a moment after they were drinking together.

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One last Close-Up Foundation item:

In 1981, another schoolmate and I were scheduled to represent the Soviet Union on the International Court of Justice, regarding a case between Chile and Argentina. Now, for one day of the 1980 Close-Up tour, our group was scheduled to be split, with my half going somewhere and the other half going to meet the head of the Organization of the American States! I finagled my way onto that half so I could ask the head what the group's standing was on the dispute, which was over who should own the Beagle Islands at the tip of South America in Cape Horn. The answer I got wasn't very helpful (he wasn't too prepared for something like it from a group of high schoolers), but still, I got to talk to the man at the head of the Organization of American States!

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Back to my junior high school days of 1976:

I spent a lot of my summer vacations in Austin, my home town. My parents would ship off my sister and my self and then do God knows what. (One summer they got separated, but that's another story.) Anyway, my grandparents and great-grandmother gave me pretty free-rein through the city via the Austin bus line, which in 1976 was safe, cheap, and dependable. I explored a hell of a lot of downtown Austin that way, but one of my favorite places to explore was the State Capitol.

One day, I heard that there was a special session being held to impeach a State District Judge. I went straight to the Capitol and started asking how I could be a page for the special session (get your minds out of the gutter—we're talking running errands, making intra-building deliveries, etc.). I was finally directed to the District Representative for my home in Pasadena, TX at the time. He was already there, preparing for the impeachment sessions. After a few minutes of talking and him explaining that they don't use pages in special sessions, he finally agreed and ordered his secretary to type up something for me to present to the House Sergeant at Arms the following day.

My grandparents went nuts with excitement along with me! The took me around from store to store after they got off work and bought me a whole new wardrobe to wear for the next couple of days. You can imagine what it looked like (think Saturday Night Live of the 1976 era), but they were so proud that I could have gone in a diaper and I'd still have made them happy.

The next day I boarded the old #21 Airport bus route and proudly got off across from the State Capitol, permission slip in hand. I walked straight to the House chamber, found the Sergeant at Arms (I hope, or I'm getting a lot of this story wrong), and presented them with my official permission to work as an Honorary Page for the 1976 Special Session. Turns out I wasn't the only person, so the secretary had us take seats and wait for jobs to come along. We didn't have to wait too long. I did a lot of copying, picking up, delivering, getting lost, and even once going out along the side of the Floor of the House of Representatives to get to the Speaker's office and make some copies. I can even remember what I ate for lunch: Frito Pie and Coke.

The second day wasn't as exciting, since most of the business had been wrapped up on the first day; I was basically told to go on home after a while. Still, there's no way in Hell or Texas that I'm ever going to forget my legitimate brush with real, live back-room Texas Politics.

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12 hours ago, The Old Hack said:

I am disappointed. I had expected something with more gunslinger duels and cattle rustling.

If your cattle rustle, you've let them dry out far too much!

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Just now, CritterKeeper said:

If your cattle rustle, you've let them dry out far too much!

Well, it is Texas. The whole place is one big flat desert with the odd cactus growing every one or two miles or so, right?

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(Writing so I don't go crazy ...)

I've lived through a hit from a hurricane, back in 1971. The storm was Hurricane Fern, a category one storm that made landfall just south of Houston. We were living in Pasadena, TX at the time, and my father was away in Atlanta on "business" (my mother never trusted him, and potentially for good reason). They cancelled school for a day or two, so for me I thought it would be a big holiday. For my mother, though, it was WHYAREN'TYOUASPARANOIDASIAMOMYGODWE'REALLGOINGTODIEGETOUTSIDEANDTAPEUPTHEWINDOWS.

Yeah, that part was fun. Putting freaking masking tape on all of the windows so they wouldn't shatter, directed by a freaked out mother with a stepladder.

The bit that was a lot of fun was getting to stay up all night. We set up a little quilted camp in the tiny hallway of the house and angled our black & white TV so that we could watch the one station that had committed to stay on the air all night long. They showed old movies and did weather reports, and at times would just cut to their weather radar for a minute or two since they didn't have any commercials to play. I was so overstimulated that I don't think I got a wink of sleep all night.

Playing in the high water in front of our house the next day was fun, too. Lord knows how many bacteria and viruses were floating around in it, with us living so close to the Houston Ship Channel.

Turns out we really only took a glancing blow, with no structural damage. Still, the winds did hit category 1 speed, and I get to say I lived through a hurricane. A lame one, but a hurricane nonetheless.

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2 hours ago, ProfessorTomoe said:

Turns out we really only took a glancing blow, with no structural damage. Still, the winds did hit category 1 speed, and I get to say I lived through a hurricane. A lame one, but a hurricane nonetheless.

I have experienced exactly one hurricane in my life. It was here in Copenhagen and guess what. I slept through it. It was kind of embarrassing. Mind you, getting up the next morning and seeing the wreckage of cars and in one case an 18-wheeler truck blown about by the wind was a bit of an experience.

Hurricanes are not common here. It had been more than thirty years since the last one. I guess this is why some people insisted on being out in it in their cars, or in that one case, truck. Thankfully we had very few casualties.

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Several years ago, the American Mensa Annual Gathering was held in New Orleans, and for once I was able to attend.  I arrived shortly before Hurricane Cindy did, to a hotel room which overlooked the French Quarter through a floor-to-ceiling window.  There was a shutter on the inside I could have closed if I wanted to, but I figured they knew what they were doing, and it was hovering between hurricane and tropical storm status and I figured they must have designed the building with hurricanes in mind.  The window was high up enough that debris wasn't likely to be a problem.  I spend a decent amount of time watching the street lights swing and the palm trees on the neutral ground getting whipped about and occasionally toppling over.  We never lost power, and things got cleaned up pretty quickly.  Tour guides made jokes about how many chickens had been sacrificed by Voodoo priests to make the storm give N'Awlins a glancing blow instead of hitting harder.

As the end of the convention approached, so did Hurricane Dennis.  Dennis was a bigger storm, a full-on Category 3, and they started announcing cancellations of flights and trains.  We'd driven down in a friend's car, so we left a day or two earlier than planned, giving a ride to a fellow member whose train was no longer going to go that far south.  Dennis chased us all the way up the Mississippi Valley, occasional gusts causing the car to swerve a bit but never actually lose control.  We'd get ahead of it, and then make a pit stop (or, once, stopped at New Madrid, just because), and he'd start catching up to us.  We joked that they must have run out of chickens, and then when it turned out the hurricane had been smaller (but still strong) and only caught NOLA a glancing blow, that maybe they'd found a few more chickens after all.  Hey, the natives had started it!

Any of you who remembers names and dates well might see what's coming next.  The year was 2005, and the gulf coast was hit by Hurricane Emily less than a week later, followed by Katrina and Rita later in the year.  New Orleans was devastated.  Any jokes about finally truly running out of chickens were few and half-hearted.

 

The next year, the Annual Gathering was scheduled to be held in Florida.  One wonders if we made them at all nervous....I know a few members were!

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I should follow up and say that Hurricane Ike affected our 25th Anniversary plans in 2008. I'd found a wonderful rent house on Bermuda Beach, located on Galveston Island but south of the main tourista spots. Mrs. Prof and I were going to spend a week there. I'd even located all of the grocery stores and other necessary outlets on the island. We were ready to have a hell of a time until Ike came along.

Mrs. Prof was out of town on IRS business when Ike rolled in. I was glued to my couch, watching The Weather Channel with gritted teeth, hoping and praying that our beach house would be left alone.

Then the pictures started coming in. Ohmydearlord. I'm glad I'd contacted the owner about her refund policy prior to landfall, because we needed it.

Here's where the house was located along the beach before Ike hit:

large.BermudaBeachBeforeIke01a.jpg

and here's what it looked like from above after Ike hit:

large.BermudaBeachAfterIke01a.jpg

We have since gone to the reconstructed Bermuda Beach, back in 2013. All that is left of the lady's beach house is a concrete slab. You can't even tell where the utilities were installed.

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At OzComicon Melbourne in 2012, I got an autograph from Julie Benz and I asked a question or two in her panel.

Also, I remember walking past Anh Do and getting a "Hey, man" when he was performing at my university. Rather ironic if you're familiar with Anh's more recent work.

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This is more of an embarrassment than a brush with fame.

Back when I was the Music and Sound Director for 3D Realms, I got invited to participate on a panel about the importance of music in video games at the very first South by Southwest Interactive conference (not the regular SxSW) in Austin. I've still got the special bag that the creators of South Park designed for the occasion. Anyway, I learned that Thomas Dolby was going to be presenting about his work in interactive music the next day, so I made arrangements to stay an extra day (had to pay my own way, and we were poor at the time) and give him some Apogee/3D Realms games where I'd done the soundtracks. I mean, he'd heard my stuff before—I was a member of an internet fan mailing list, and we'd put together a couple of birthday tapes/CDs of covers of his works as gifts for him. I didn't expect him to recognize me, though.

Except that he did.

When I got to the head of the line, he stood, reached across the table, grinned from ear to ear, and cheerily said, "Well, hello, Lee!"

My cool evaporated in a nanosecond and I turned into a gibbering fanboy. I handed him the games as a present from the mailing list, stuttered some words out, tried to find out if he would be in town overnight (blew that—he was leaving as soon as the meet & greet was over), and stuttered my way through a thank you and a good-bye. I have hardly any recollection of what he said.

I beat myself up over that for months. That's one of those, "If I could do one thing over" items everyone has a list of.

Oh, as for the rest of the conference? When I made my part of the presentation about the importance of music in video games, I used Quake level one as my example. I loaded it normally first, with the Quake CD in the drive for Trent Reznor's soundtrack for level one. Then, I restarted the game, except that I had a CD from Manhattan Transfer in the drive, playing an a Capella bebop song called the "Duke of Dubuque" with the same level. Got a big ovation and made an impact on the audience.

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2 hours ago, ProfessorTomoe said:

Oh, as for the rest of the conference? When I made my part of the presentation about the importance of music in video games, I used Quake level one as my example. I loaded it normally first, with the Quake CD in the drive for Trent Reznor's soundtrack for level one. Then, I restarted the game, except that I had a CD from Manhattan Transfer in the drive, playing an a Capella bebop song called the "Duke of Dubuque" with the same level. Got a big ovation and made an impact on the audience.

Oh, I remember playing Quake with different CDs for music soundtrack! My favourite was the soundtrack from The Sting -- a wonderful ragtime CD which made the game utterly hilarious. It was just so incredible running around shooting demons and blowing crap up with cheerful ragtime jazz playing as accompaniment. ^_^

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I work at a hotel, and today I had a very brief brush with fame as the son of Canadian folk music legend Stompin' Tom Connors, Taw Connors, had stayed at the hotel on the last stop of his tribute tour playing his dad's songs. Stompin' Tom was very Canada-centric so he never had much exposure outside the country, but people outside of Canada would likely know him by "The Hockey Song" which sees a lot of play time during NHL games:

 

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